Meaning of ABOUT in English


I. a ‧ bout 1 S1 W1 /əˈbaʊt/ BrE AmE preposition

1 . concerning or relating to a particular subject:

a book about politics

She said something about leaving town.

He lied about his age.

About that car of yours. How much are you selling it for?

What’s he on about (=talking about) ?

It’s about Tommy, doctor. He’s been sick again.

Naturally, my mother wanted to know all about it (=all the details relating to it) .

2 . used to show why someone is angry, happy, upset etc:

I’m really worried about Jack.

She’s upset about missing the party.

3 . in many different directions within a particular place, or in different parts of a place SYN around , round :

We spent the whole afternoon walking about town.

Books were scattered about the room.

4 . in the nature or character of a person or thing:

There’s something really strange about Liza.

What I like about the job is that it’s never boring.

5 . what/how about somebody/something spoken

a) used to ask a question that directs attention to another person or thing:

What about Jack? We can’t just leave him here.

I’m feeling hungry. How about you?

b) used to make a suggestion:

How about a salad for lunch?

6 . do something about something to do something to solve a problem or stop a bad situation:

If we don’t do something about it, the problem is going to get worse.

What can be done about the rising levels of pollution?

7 . if an organization, a job, an activity etc is about something, that is its basic purpose:

Leadership is all about getting your team to co-operate.

8 . it’s all about somebody/something used to say who or what is important in a situation:

It’s all about money, and who’s got the most.

9 . while you’re about it spoken used to tell someone to do something while they are doing something else because it would be easier to do both things at the same time:

Go and see what’s the matter, and while you’re about it you can fetch me my sweater.

10 . what was all that about? spoken used to ask the reason for something that has just happened, especially someone’s angry behaviour

11 . literary surrounding a person or thing:

Jo sensed fear and jealousy all about her.

⇨ be quick about it at ↑ quick 1 (5), ⇨ go about your business at ↑ business (12)

• • •


▪ about used when saying what the subject of something is:

She’s always talking about you.


In her novels she writes about life in South Africa.


There’s something I wanted to ask you about.

▪ on about a particular subject:

a book on English grammar


a report on poverty in rural areas

▪ concerning/regarding formal about:

Prince Saiid answered questions concerning Kuwait’s future.


The report raises a number of questions regarding food safety.

▪ with regard to formal about – used especially when you want to start talking or writing about something:

Dear Sir, I’m writing with regard to your advertisement in The Times.

▪ re used in business letters and in emails to introduce the subject that you are going to write about:

Re: Friday’s meeting

II. about 2 S1 W1 BrE AmE adverb

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: abutan , from a- 'on' + butan 'outside' ]

1 . ( also round about spoken ) a little more or less than a particular number, amount, or size SYN roughly , approximately :

I live about 10 miles away.

a tiny computer about as big as a postcard

We left the restaurant at round about 10.30.


In written English, people usually prefer to use approximately , as it sounds more technical:

The cost to taxpayers is approximately $200 billion.

2 . British English in many different directions within a place or in different parts of a place SYN around :

People were rushing about, trying to find the driver.

Cushions were scattered about on the chairs.

3 . near to you or in the same place as you:

Is Derek about? There’s a phone call for him.

Quick! Let’s go while there’s no-one about.

4 . British English spoken existing or available now:

I hope she hasn’t caught flu. There’s a lot of it about.

She might get temporary work, but there’s not much about.

5 . informal almost or probably:

I was about ready to leave when somebody rang the doorbell.

‘Have you finished?’ ‘Just about.’

It’s just about the worst mistake anyone could make.

6 . that’s about it/all spoken

a) used to tell someone that you have told them everything you know:

He was a quiet chap, married with kids. That’s about it, really.

b) used to say that there is nothing else available:

There’s some cheese in the fridge and that’s about it.

7 . so as to face in the opposite direction SYN around :

He quickly turned about and walked away.

III. about 3 BrE AmE adjective

1 . be about to do something if someone is about to do something, or if something is about to happen, they will do it or it will happen very soon:

We were just about to leave when Jerry arrived.

Work was about to start on a new factory building.

2 . not be about to do something informal used to emphasize that you have no intention of doing something:

I’ve never smoked in my life and I’m not about to start now.

⇨ out and about at ↑ out 1 (3), ⇨ be up and about at ↑ up 1 (11)

• • •


▪ approximately more or less than a number or amount – used especially in technical or scientific contexts:

The company had total revenues of approximately $2 million.


The disease affects approximately 10% of the adult population.

▪ about more or less than a number or amount. ‘About’ is the usual word to use in everyday English:

It costs about $30 to get a visa.


There were about 50 people at the meeting.

▪ roughly /ˈrʌfli/ about – used when you are trying to give someone a general idea of the size, amount, or number of something:

The two countries are roughly the same size.


Roughly how many miles do you travel a year?

▪ around about a number or time – used when you are guessing:

I’ll be there around 5 o'clock.


The BBC broadcasts around 2,000 radio dramas every year.

▪ somewhere/something in the region of formal about – used with very large numbers or amounts:

Last year he earned something in the region of $60 million.


It costs somewhere in the region of £100,000 to train a new doctor.

▪ or so informal about – used after a period of time, a number, or an amount:

The journey takes an hour or so.

▪ circa /ˈsɜːkə $ ˈsɜːr-/ formal about – used with dates a long time ago in the past:

The house was built circa 1530.

▪ or more used after a number or amount, when the total may be a lot more:

A thirty-second commercial can cost £60,000 or more.

▪ upwards of more than a number or amount:

The aircraft can carry upwards of 400 passengers.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.